Literally rebirth in French. Started in 14th Century Italy (where it is called rinascimento), spread all over Europe and lasted till about 17th Century.

The name refers to the rebirth of interest in classical culture of pre-Christian era, a culture that was completely surpressed during the Middle Ages.

It was for the first time in centuries that European intelligentsia considered alternatives to the strictness and harshness of Christianity in arts and philosophy, leading to the dictum Carpe Diem (seize the day), increased study of science, new type of architecture, independent thought, which eventually completed the transition to the modern era.